12 September 2018

Sweden Democrat leader's visit causes disquiet among Malmö's Muslims

When Jimmie Åkesson, the 39-year-old leader of the populist Sweden Democrats, starts railing against "giant mosque complexes, with huge minarets everywhere" Adam and Mohammed begin to protest.

"It's you who want to build that!" Mohammed, 25, shouts out when Åkesson accuses Muslims like him of trying to create a parallel society.

The leader of the Sweden Democrats is speaking in Sweden's third-largest city as part of an election tour which has seen protesters attempt to pelt him with eggs in Falkenberg, and a rapturous reception in the party stronghold of Landskrona.

In Malmö, the mood is somewhere in between, with a big crowd of supporters and a small but energetic group of protesters.

"Jimmie, you think we have so many problems in Malmö," reads one sign. "Well, go away and we'll have one less."

Opposition to an anti-immigration party should be no surprise in a city where more than half the people have at least one parent born abroad, and an estimated 20 percent are Muslim. [The Local] Read more

11 September 2018

'He's preaching something that's illegal': Outrage at Muslim preacher's 'repugnant' views that it's a 'major SIN' for a wife to refuse her husband's demands for sex

Feminists and the NSW Attorney General have expressed concern after a Sydney Muslim preacher declared it was a 'major sin' for a wife to refuse sex with her husband.

Nassim Abdi, a fundamentalist Sunni, told an Auburn mosque in the city's west a woman would be 'cursed' by angels for withholding marital intimacy.

'If the husband calls the wife to be intimate and there's no legitimate reason for the woman to say no, then she must answer the call of her husband,' he said on Friday night.

'She must answer the call of her husband and if not she has committed a major sin.

'If the man calls the wife to bed and she refuses, the angels curse this woman and he sleeps with her whilst he's angry, the angels curse her until she wakes up.'

Mr Abdi preaches a seventh-century fundamentalist version of Salafist Islam from Saudi Arabia with the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah Association, which also advocates aspects of Sharia law. [Daily Mail Australia] Read more

Labour’s failure to tackle Muslim extremism has ‘pushed core supporters to join far right groups’, Unite boss warns

LABOUR has pushed thousands of its core supporters to the far right because of its failure to take on Muslim extremism, a union boss has warned.

Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner tore into the Labour leadership for remaining silent during last year’s Islamist terror attacks in London and Manchester.

And he blasted the Left for failing to criticise despotic regimes such as Iran but being the first to protest against Donald Trump and the Israeli government.

He warned that it had left many men lacking a voice to vent their anger - and had driven them to far-right groups such as the Democratic Football Lads Alliance (DFLA).

Speaking at an anti-racism fringe meeting at the TUC conference, Mr Turner fumed: “We need to stop talking to ourselves and talk to the people who are drawn to some of these organisations – for a multitude of different reasons."

He said many who had been driven to far right groups had "genuine fears and concerns”.

.... “Where’s the left criticising the state of Iran for instance, who whipped trade unionists for taking strike action, who denies women human rights, who runs an obscene regime.

“Saudi Arabia, where we welcomed the head of Saudi Arabia to the UK. Did we protest? No we didn’t protest. [The Sun] Read more

Islamophobia row over Bodyguard

.... The opening episode included a scene in which a would-be suicide bomber appeared to act under the influence of her jihadist husband. Sergeant David Budd, a police protection officer played by Richard Madden, tells the woman that she has been brainwashed.

.... “Unfortunately the reality of our situation is that the principal terror threats in the UK do originate from Islamist sympathisers.

“I do understand that’s different from the religion of Islam, but it’s the reality of who the perpetrators are of the majority of the offences. If the show were set in the recent British past, the attackers might be Irish Republicans.”

Rohit Kachroo, ITV News security editor, claimed that the passive jihadist bride was “one of the great clichés in depictions of modern Islamist terrorism”. Lexi Alexander, a German-Palestinian filmmaker, accused British TV dramas of focusing on “bad Muslims”. [The Times (£)] Read more

10 September 2018

Man arrested after breakfast with woman in Saudi Arabia

An Egyptian man in Saudi Arabia has been arrested after a video of him having breakfast with a woman went viral on Twitter.

In the video, a man with an Egyptian dialect eats breakfast beside a woman wearing a full face veil, who many assumed to be Saudi.

This is in contravention of the law in Saudi Arabia, where in workplaces or eateries like McDonald's and Starbucks, families and single men have to sit in different areas.

Women must sit separately from single men in these places.

They are not allowed to carry out most activities without being accompanied by their male guardians, usually a father or husband, but possibly a brother or a son.

The man was arrested by the Saudi Ministry of Labour and Social Development, who accused him of "committing several violations and taking up a post exclusively reserved for Saudis". [BBC] Read more

Macron to review report calling for reform of Islam in France

Islamists have an “intellectual monopoly” over public debate among Muslims in France and the state must intervene to limit foreign influence over worshippers, according to a new report submitted to President Emmanuel Macron.

The 617-page report, “The Fabric of Islam,” presents a comprehensive plan for reform of Islamic institutions in France following a call from Macron to bring them under the aegis of the state. During a July address to lawmakers at the Palace of Versailles, Macron committed to giving Islam “a framework and rules” by the fall. His goals: discouraging insular Muslim communities and combating extremist strands of the religion.

“Muslims, notably the young, inform themselves of the religion more and more on social media,” warned the report’s author Hakim El Karoui on BFM TV on Monday, adding that Salafist-aligned Saudis play a disproportionate role online.

His report, which was unveiled Sunday and published by liberal think tank Institut Montaigne, calls for the development of a “French Islam” — an autonomous, France-centric branch of the faith that would respond to French law. El Karoui, an essayist and ex-Rothschild banker, is also the nephew of former Tunisian Prime Minister Hamed Karoui. [POLITICO] Read more

Halal tax and Arabic in French schools: the new ways to stop Islamic fundamentalism in France?

A new report by a Paris think-tank underlines "the progress of Islamist ideology among Muslims in France", suggesting that Salafi Islam can be stamped out through a “halal tax” and Arabic being taught in French schools.

According to the report released on Sunday by France’s Montaigne Institute, Salafism - a radical branch of Islam that calls for worldwide sharia law – has a monopoly on Islamic religious thought in l’Héxagone.

Author Hakim El Karaoui, a consultant for the Paris think-thank who’s written on Arab and Muslim policy before, points to Turkey and Saudi Arabia as the main sources of funding for the dissemination of this radical school of thinking among France and Europe’s Muslim population.

The Montaigne Institute study highlights that this opaque financing pays for the promotion of Arabic learning among France’s Muslims at institutions that have a marked fundamentalist political-religious stance rather than just a linguistic one, the report suggests.

Through these obscure Islamic schools Salafi indoctrination "is gaining ground in France”, especially among "young people under 35", El Karaoui suggests. [The Local] Read more

09 September 2018

Muslim group calls for preacher linked to Trump to be denied UK visa

Britain’s leading Muslim organisation has called on the Home Office to refuse a UK visa to a prominent US evangelical preacher with links to Donald Trump and a track record of Islamophobic and homophobic statements.

Franklin Graham, the son of the evangelist Billy Graham, has been invited to preach at a Christian festival in Blackpool this month.

The preacher, who said Trump’s election victory was evidence that “God’s hand” was at work, has called Islam “evil” and “wicked”, claimed Barack Obama’s “problem is that he was born a Muslim” and said Satan was the architect of same-sex marriage and LGBT rights.

The Muslim Council of Britain has joined three MPs, including a government whip, in demanding the Home Office apply its criteria on hate speech to Graham’s visa request. [The Guardian] Read more

Payout for ex-scout leader after niqab Darth Vader row

A scout leader who was expelled from the movement for comparing a colleague canoeing in a niqab to Darth Vader has accepted an out-of-court settlement.

Brian Walker, 62, wrote to the Scout's magazine saying a leader taking girls canoeing in a niqab would "most likely drown" wearing "that Darth Vader tent".

Mr Walker, who took legal action against the scouts, has been awarded an undisclosed settlement.

The Scout Association said the settlement does not imply he was right.

Mr Walker was immediately dismissed by the scout's district commissioner for Bristol South after writing to the association's official magazine in March 2017.

In his letter, which was unpublished, he wrote: "Canoeists don't dress like that.

"They need all round unobstructed vision so they protect the group, and of course they will most likely drown wearing that Darth Vader tent."

He also criticised the association for "promoting political correctness and interfaith issues" with a visit to a mosque but then advising using a non-religious venue for the St George's Day service. [BBC] Read more

08 September 2018

Pay-off for Scout leader expelled for making ‘Darth Vader’ veil remark

A Scout master dismissed for comparing a Muslim leader who wore a niqab face veil to the Star Wars villain Darth Vader has accepted damages and legal costs from the Scouts.

Brian Walker, 63, received a payment of £1,500 in an out-of-court settlement, and withdrew a discrimination claim due to go to court in Bristol in November.

.... This weekend Walker, an assistant Explorer Scout leader who was involved with Scouting for 52 years, said he would donate the sum to the Christian Legal Centre, to spend on cases challenging anti-Christian discrimination.

.... He singled out an article featuring a female Muslim scout leader said to be taking girls canoeing while wearing a full Islamic veil. He wrote: “Hello! Canoeists don’t dress like this . . . because they need all-round unobstructed vision . . . Of course they will most likely drown wearing that Darth Vader tent!” [The Times (£)] Read more

Sweden: Social Democrat Candidate Claims Islamic Law More Important than Swedish Law

The Swedish Social Democrats have had to remove a parliamentary candidate from their national election list only days before the vote after they claimed Islamic law was more important than Swedish law.

The candidate, who was running in the municipality of Karlshamn in the south of the country, was deselected by the party after he was reported as making several controversial statements on the topic of Islam, Swedish broadcaster SVT reports.

“He has said things like Islamic rules are more important than Swedish rules,” commented Per-Ola Matsson, Social Democrat group leader for Karlshamn. His statements are said to have been linked to the debate on the wearing of veils by women, the full face version of which was recently banned by neighbouring Denmark. [Breitbart London] Read more

Shaken Dutch lawmaker Wilders says no more Prophet cartoons, for now

Dutch lawmaker and anti-Islam campaigner Geert Wilders has said he has no plans, for now, to revive a competition of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed after it emerged as a motive for a stabbing in Amsterdam last week.

Wilders, speaking on the sidelines of a conference in Italy, expressed shock over the attack, in which a man stabbed and injured two American tourists at Amsterdam’s central station. Dutch media identified the assailant as a 19-year-old Afghan.

The attack came after Wilders canceled plans to hold the cartoon competition, which had also drawn a complaint by Pakistan’s new foreign minister, who said cartoon depictions of the Prophet could incite hate and intolerance. [Reuters] Read more

Germany: Anti-Immigration Party Surges in Popularity

.... "For long enough, many citizens from all walks of life have noticed that the problems of integrating even third- and fourth-generation immigrants have grown bigger, not smaller — especially among Turks. The mass immigration of the past three years, under the banner of 'the right to asylum,' has significantly increased the fear of parallel societies, of crime, and of cultural alienation.

"When I consider the often undifferentiated, blanket accusations against 'brown Chemnitz' [brown is the color of Nazism], then the established parties will not have to wonder why, almost without exception, they continue to lose to the colorful AfD.

"When concerned citizens increasingly are stigmatized as being Nazis — accusations which, incidentally, in their excessive use amount to a shameless trivialization of Nazi crimes — they often respond with the indifferent remark: 'Well, then I'm just a Nazi!' [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Sweden 'naive' about integration: ex-Peshmerga Swedish MP

Sweden's "naive" approach to integrating asylum seekers has opened the door to the far-right, an outspoken lawmaker told AFP ahead of elections expected to see the country's once-marginal anti-immigration party make gains.

Amineh Kakabaveh is an Iranian Kurdish ex-peshmerga fighter who sought asylum herself in Sweden in the 1990s and has been a member of parliament since 2008.

She has been a vocal critic of Sweden's handling of the 400,000 asylum seekers taken in since 2012, including 160,000 in 2015 alone, the highest number in Europe per capita.

Sweden is "increasingly divided", said the 40-year-old politician, whose views have earned her enemies among her own formerly-communist Left Party who accuse her of stigmatising immigrants.

Yet Kakabaveh is ruthless in her criticism of Sweden's shortcomings on integrating immigrants, giving it a failing grade.

"We have been naive. We have not been brave. We had no plan," she said, adding that this has enabled a rise in "fundamentalism" in Sweden's suburbs that has fuelled the far-right. [AFP] Read more

07 September 2018

Sweden Sees Rise in Forced and Child Marriage Reports

According to the National Suppression of Honor Prevention of Childhood and Forced Marriage, a hotline set up for victims, the number of calls from those wanting to get out of forced or child marriages has steadily increased in Sweden.

Set up just over four years ago, the organisation’s hotline has seen 101 children and young people come to them for help in getting out of forced marriages between 2014 and 2018, SVT reports.

This year, however, the number of calls has dramatically increased with the hotline operators claiming to have received 132 calls relating to child and forced marriages, which is set to pass last year’s total of 139.

Despite being able to identify 101 potential victims of forced or child marriage, both of which are illegal in Sweden, only six cases have actually seen court convictions. [Breitbart London] Read more

Muslim groups call for female circumcision to be medicalised

A number of Sri Lankan Muslim groups have called on the government to medicalise female circumcision.

In representations made to the Parliamentary Committee on Women and Gender, members of the All Ceylon Jamiyathul Ulama, All Ceylon YMMA Conference, Centre for Islamic Studies and United Religions Initiative urged the Health Ministry to withdraw a recent circular prohibiting medical professionals from carrying out female circumcision.

In their submission, the joint Muslim groups stated that the Muslim community is very concerned about moves to ban this obligatory Islamic duty on the grounds that it is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

“We wish to categorically state that the practice of female circumcision is an obligatory Islamic duty, that it confers numerous benefits and is not Female Genital Mutilation." [Dailymirror Newsletter] Read more

Cantonal initiative to ban headgear in schools ruled invalid

The Federal Court says that an initiative by the conservative right Swiss People’s Party to ban head coverings in schools in the southern canton of Valais is invalid. It confirms the decision taken by the Valais parliament.

The People’s Party proposal had attracted more than 4,000 backers after its launch in 2016. This amount of backing automatically triggers a vote, according to Swiss law. After its rejection by the cantonal parliament in December 2017, the party took the issue to the Federal Courtexternal link in Lausanne, Switzerland’s highest instance.

In a rulingexternal link made public on Friday, the Federal Court said that an initiative should not go against cantonal, national or international law.

The court said that even if the initiative’s wording was vague – it calls for a ban on headgear such as hats, helmets and scarves – the implicit meaning was clear: it was meant to ban wearing veils or headscarves. This was clear from the poster campaign during signature collection for the initiative, which featured a picture of a woman wearing a veil and the slogan “no to headscarves in schools”. The press release at the beginning of the campaign also dealt with this issue. [swissinfo.ch] Read more

Pakistan removes economist from key role following Islamist backlash

Pakistan’s new government canceled the appointment of a renowned Princeton economist to its Economic Advisory Council, an official said on Friday, after a strong backlash against the choice of a member of the Ahmadi religious minority.

The failure of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government to resist pressure to drop economist Atif Mian reflects the increasing clout of hardline Islamists, whose parties won around 10 percent of the vote at the last election in July.

Faced with a looming balance of payments crisis that may force the country to seek a fresh bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), or other lenders, the government had picked Mian to join an 18-member council to advise prime minister Khan.

Aged 43, and a scholar in the field of finance and macroeconomics, Mian is regarded as one of the world’s top young economists.

The prime minister’s adviser on media, Iftikhar Durrani, confirmed that Mian’s appointment had been revoked, while the government’s main spokesman alluded to the pressure the government had come under from religious quarters. [Reuters] Read more

German far right fuels Muslim ‘takeover’ fears

That question is once again at the center of the country’s public discourse amid the violent protests that followed last week’s brutal killing of a German man, allegedly at the hands of two Muslim refugees, and the publication of a new book titled “Hostile Takeover, how Islam halts progress and threatens society.

On Saturday, about 11,000 people (8,000 right-wing and far-right protesters and about 3,000 anti-Nazis, according to police estimates) took to the streets of the eastern German city of Chemnitz, where the killing occurred. Eighteen people were injured, including a TV reporter who was thrown down a flight of stairs.

There’s nothing new about such clashes, or even the debate over Islam. What the past week reveals, however, is the degree to which the refugee influx since 2015 continues to dominate the country’s politics and fuel support for the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD). The pictures of marauding neo-Nazis in Chemnitz suggest the German government has largely failed to keep the violent extreme right in check, despite decades of trying. [POLITICO] Read more

06 September 2018

Burqa ban: Danish police fine tourist after she tries to renew visa while wearing face veil

Police in Denmark have fined a Turkish tourist 1,000 kroner (£121) after she entered a police station to renew her visa while wearing a full-face covering.

Officers in Aarhus, in western Denmark, said the 48-year-old woman was unaware of the Scandinavian nation’s recent law making it unlawful to wear such garments in public.

The contentious “burqa ban” prohibits anyone from wearing garments which cover the face, including burqas and niqabs.

Police said the woman paid the fine, removed her full-face cover and walked away. They provided no further details. [The Independent] Read more

05 September 2018

Islam shows its female face with rise of women mosques

Relegated to the basement, silenced by the imam and barred from the front door, some Muslim women have had enough of male domination at the mosque and are setting up their own.

From Copenhagen to Los Angeles, a handful of female mosques now cater to Muslim women who want their own place of worship, just as men have had through the ages.

“It is possible to change a narrative that has been patriarchal for centuries,” Sherin Khankan, founder of Europe’s first women’s mosque, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Her first-floor mosque - adjacent to a clothes shop - is invisible from the busy Danish shopping street below. But behind its anonymous, gray door, a quiet revolution is brewing.

For the past two years, women have been leading prayers, delivering sermons and running Copenhagen’s Mariam Mosque - though Khankan says she is not challenging the Koran, just rewriting a male-dominated way of worship. [Reuters] Read more

04 September 2018

Saudi Arabia declares online satire punishable offence

Saudi Arabia will punish online satire that "disrupts public order" with up to five years in prison, the public prosecutor said Tuesday, as the kingdom cracks down on dissent.

"Producing and distributing content that ridicules, mocks, provokes and disrupts public order, religious values and public morals through social media ... will be considered a cybercrime punishable by a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of three million riyals ($800,000)," the public prosecution tweeted late Monday.

The kingdom's powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has drawn harsh criticism from rights groups over the targeting of human rights activists and political dissidents across the spectrum since his appointment in June 2017.

Saudi Arabia's legislation on cybercrime has sparked concern among international rights groups in the past.

Dozens of Saudi citizens have been convicted on charges linked to dissent under a previous sweeping law, particularly linked to posts on Twitter. [AFP] Read more

'We need to grow up': Malaysian MPs condemn caning over lesbian sex

A Malaysian MP has called for laws that criminalise homosexuality to be immediately abolished amid outcry over the caning of two women convicted by a sharia court of attempting to have lesbian sex.

Charles Santiago, a parliamentary member from the Malaysian state of Selangor, expressed his outrage in a series of tweets after the punishment was carried out in the Terengganu court on Monday morning.

That two women were caned while “100 people gawked at them” in the public gallery of the court was shocking and humiliating, he wrote on Twitter.

“We need to stop targeting the LGBT community. We need to stop invading their privacy. We need to stop abusing them. We need to grow up as a society and learn to embrace diversity,” he wrote. [The Guardian] Read more

Growing group of young Salafists increasingly isolated from society: report

There is a growing group of young salafists in the Netherlands who politicians can't get a grip on, according to a study by Mohammad Nazar Soroush at Tilburg University, for which he is receiving his doctorate, NOS reports.

Nazar Soroush studied salafist Muslims in the Netherlands for 15 years. He visited 64 religious meetings over the past three years, and listened and watched young salafists at mosques, foundations and leisure activities. Salafists are Muslims who try to live as strictly as possible to the authentic, pure form of Islam.

The young salafists seek the protection of a closed community, that has traits of a family, Nazar Soroush said. What struck the researcher, was how negative the young people are about the world outside theirs.

"They can not spend time with old friends, or people who are not their ideological brothers", he said to NOS. "A girl asked what she should say to a colleague who says salam aleikum when she comes in. The answer: do not say 'As-salamu alaikum' (peace be upon you) but 'Aleikum' (upon you), because the colleague as non-Muslim is not worthy of peace." [NL Times] Read more

03 September 2018

Britain's Burka Blues: "I'd Like to Thank Boris Johnson"

.... All the while, it is not the Islamic religion that justifies these suppressions but a culturally-defined patriarchal system that could not be more out of keeping with Western societies, where many women are increasingly asking to be in command of their lives, and where men, however powerful, who abuse women are exposed – and sometimes arrested, tried and imprisoned. Yet we are expected to feel guilty if we dare to question what some Muslim women question: if shariah law is really the most wholesome lifestyle for many women.

The Netherlands is just the latest EU country to have banned the burqa in a major step towards affirming our democratic convictions about human rights and respect for the autonomy and individuality of everyone. Already, some twelve European countries have passed laws for full or partial bans on the burqa, while the UK government still stumbles over even the slightest restriction suggested. [Gatestone Institute] Read more